We live in a world where we have near constant access to information and entertainment. The Media (news, movies, TVs, books, video games) have grown to become the biggest influencer in how we think and behave. Hollywood is best known for its movies, but underneath the glamorous superstars and red carpet premiers of global megahits is Hollywood’s true power: the ability to sell American culture to the rest of the world and the ability to change the cultural norms of our society. Same with the other aforementioned industries, though to a smaller degree of influence. Over the years the ascent of media has worried the general public about their influence over the younger generation and “destroying” morality. Whether it was poems like Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, books like Clockwork Orange and Lolita, movies like Kill Bill, video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, every single form of artistic achievement in any form of entertainment media has been heavily scrutinized by a sadly uninformed public for their supposed “negative” affect on society. The current evolution of this age old debate is whether the oversaturated violence in our entertainment and news has made the entire American population prone to violence. Parents are obviously concerned, as the age old adage “children learn through mimicry” implies that children will develop violence tendencies after watching their favorite superheroes beat up bad guys and playing games involving war and death. The first studies on this subject showed a clear correlation between the exposure to violence and the potential to commit violence in the short term and long term effects. This initial wave of studies have recently been challenged by more recent research, highlighting the important logical problem with the original conclusion: Correlation does not equal causation. Harvard Health points out that despite the rise of violent movies and video game, violent crimes have decreased since 1996. Further research shows that extremely violent behavior have a complex series of triggers, like natural/genetic deposition, stress, childhood abuse, etc.. This more specific view certainly better explains why most psychopaths never commit homicide, or any crime, but it does not explain our strange attraction to ultra-violence particularly our culture’s addiction with mass shootings and serial killings. Further research into the human psyche will hopefully reveal parts of the truth.
Image From: Youth Voices Database